Owls Head Transportation Museum’s Wings and Wheels Spectacular

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The Owls Head Transportation Museum presented a flying display on August 3rd and 4th, 2019. There were a number of warbirds which took to the skies that weekend, here's what happened at the show. Late summer in Mid-Coast Maine normally has pleasant weather and warm sunlight. When there’s high pressure in the area and a sea breeze kicks up, the temperature is wonderful and the air is crisp and clear. So were the conditions at Rockland’s Knox County Regional Airport on the first day of the annual two-day air and ground transportation show presented by the Owls Head Transportation Museum. The Museum is on the west side of the airport, opposite from the small but busy airline terminal. The Wings and Wheels show, sometimes referred to as the “Rally”, normally occurs during the first full weekend of August. Several weekends later, the big New England Auto Auction, featuring scores of pristine cars and other motorized modes of transportation, wraps up a busy month for the Museum.

A steady stream of local airline Cessna Stationaires and 402s, plus privately owned pleasure and business craft came and went for most of the day, but for about three hours after noontime, a series of performances offered aerobatics and flybys of some vintage and rare aircraft. Intersecting runways allowed for most of the day’s flight operations to occur directly in front of the spectators, save for a few corporate jets which need the longer, more distant runway.

Before the TFR airspace went into effect (needed for the aerobatics), a pair of Stearmen – a PT-17 and N2S, offered 20-minute rides around the coastline. Painted to represent a World War II training scheme, the Naval version was noted to be a VIP transport... as a VN2S.

A psudo-Dawn Patrol consisting of the Museum’s replica SPAD XIIIc1 and Nieuport 28c1 World War I fighters departed for a local flight. They arrived back at the airport and were tied down away from the World War II fighters (and their strong propwash).

Later in the morning, the Museum’s pair of restored 1930 classic biplanes – a Curtiss-Wright Travel Air D4000 Speedwing and Pitcairn PA-7s Sport Mailwing flew some low passes down the runway closest to the museum.

When the aerobatics portion of the show began, Jason Flood in his modified Pitts S-1S. The man has an interesting past… he soloed on his 16th birthday – in a Pitts special biplane. He was rated for, and competed in aerobatics at 17 years old in a Pitts biplane too. Jason survived a banner-towing accident in 2011, battling back from severe injuries. More recently, after some down time to recover from that accident, he began competing in aerobatics again. As his biography notes: “Jason has made a habit of ranking 1st place in just about all of the regional aerobatic competitions he attends”. He’s also one of the youngest showmen on the circuit, and home-based in New Jersey.

Then it was Dan Marcotte’s turn to dazzle the crowd, in two different ways. His web site states that he offers “inspiring, surface level aerobatics… and jet car madness” too! First, he flew his acrobatic routine in his Ultimate 10-200 biplane. With very little straight and level flying, Dan is no stranger to the Knox County Regional Airport, having entertained the Wings and Wheels crowds for several past Wings and Wheels shows. In 2003, Dan got his pilot’s license and with just 80 hours to his credit, travelled to Reno Nevada, completed his Pylon Racing School training, and placed 4th in the Bronze race in his aircraft category on his first competition.

Since then, he’s had a diversified flying career, including aerobatics competitions and speed racing at Bonneville Salt Flats. He’s a metal fabricator and in 2015, introduced his own home-built jet car, complete with an afterburning J-85 engine, once used in a Northrop F-5 fighter jet. This year, the lucky Wings and Wheels crowd saw Dan perform in both his machines.

Later, the North American T-6 Texan, the P-51 Mustang “Never Miss” and the TBM “She’s the Boss” made a series of passes, seemingly lower each time. Watching the World War II aircraft dive in from a high altitude gave one a near head-on profile for a few seconds, and the aerodynamic design differences between an in-line engine versus a radial engine was readily apparent.

Of course there were automobiles by the score… some older than the dawn of powered flight, and others were built late in the last century. A demonstration of antique bicycles was fun to watch too. And, the Museum’s rotary engine, mounted on a stand, was run up… the spinning cylinders were a blur through the (castor?) oil smoke. All in all, it was a great day to see many different styles of aviation technology, as well as a broader scope of cars and trucks too. Here’s their web address: http://owlshead.org/

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